Tuesday, June 12, 2007

V/A - Electro Breakdance: Real Old School Revival

Electro Breakdance: Real Old School Revival Part 1

Electro Breakdance: Real Old School Revival Part 2
Electro has the unfortunate distinction of sounding dangerously dated (innocently so, though) yet still miles ahead of what’s currently being offered up for mainstream consumption on the radio. Sure, the cheap sounding bleeps and bloops of, say, Egyptian Lover cries nineteen-eighties, but the arrangements and, perhaps, the intent still sounds futuristic, especially in a world where innovations seem to come at a much slower rate. So, unfortunately, electro sounds like a failed avenue of hip-hop, one that was slayed by g-funk and the post-Golden Age boom. Shame, because the contradiction it’s now known for (so out of style, yet so far beyond present fads), makes it sound even more inviting in this day and age.

Electro Breakdance: Real Old School Revival isn’t an electro comp, not really. Instead, it’s a fun overview of what got the kids poppin’ and lockin’ and breakin’ back in the day. The name does mislead, which would be more of a problem if the track selection wasn’t so damn solid. Leading off with the Prince penned “Feel For You” from indelible diva Chaka Khan, Electro Breakdance is unbelievable well-sequenced and, in the words of Swingers, just plain money. The first disc might be of more interest to the nouveaux hip-hopper, with classic material from The Jonzun Crew (the endearingly goofy “Space Cowboy”), The 45 King & Louie (the old-school party anthem “900 Number"), and the original 12” mix of the World Famous Supreme Team’s “Hey DJ” (Mariah Carey fans are urged to see if they can place that piano line). And then, there’s Tyrone Brunson’s “The Smurf,” with keyboards that feel so good, it’s amazing that more people haven’t mined it for its sheer samplability.

With recognizable material from Herbie Hancock, The Sugarhill Gang, Erik B. & Rakim, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, De La Soul, Public Enemy, Run-D.M.C., and Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, Electro Breakdance: Real Old School Revival almost plays like a best of, but don’t mistake it for a stuffy history lesson (if you want a history lesson, please go hunt down the collections put together by Kurtis Blow and Rhino), it’s more of a fun party album, a great stroll down memory lane for those that lived it and for those that want to know just a little bit more. And, amazingly, unlike some hip-hop, this material holds up extremely well, not just because the songs have become sample fodder for so many newer acts, but because, at their core, these songs are just so well written. Maybe people didn’t know it at the time, but these songs were written to last and that’s what makes them such a joy to hear, even two decades later.

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